Results tagged ‘ Welington Castillo ’

4/18 Reds 4, Cubs 1

Jeff Samardzija posted his fourth quality start on Friday but it wasn’t enough as the Reds beat the Cubs, 4-1, in front of 28,699 at Wrigley Field. Samardzija is winless in his last 10 starts. The Cubs have scored a total of four runs in his four starts this year.

“You keep going out there and doing your work,” Samardzija said. “Today was a tough day to hit with that wind. You just go out and keep doing your work and understand everybody is doing their job. You can’t let it get to you, for sure.”

* Manager Rick Renteria met with the players after the game, although he would not confirm the meeting.

“He said a lot of good things,” Welington Castillo said of the Cubs manager. “He’s a positive guy.”

Renteria said he’s not focused on the statistics, but what he sees on the field.

“I concern myself more with the way we approach the game,” Renteria said. “If our approach is good and we’re really focused on what we’re supposed to be doing both at the plate and in the field, I’m good with it. Today, I think we were a little sloppy in general, and Jeff really kept us in the ballgame throughout.”

* On the plus side, the Cubs did snap a 24-scoreless inning stretch with Luis Valbuena’s RBI single in the seventh.

* Anthony Rizzo had two hits, and was 13-for-26 at home this season. He also combined with Samardzija on three straight plays in the seventh inning.

“Let them roll it over and let me get to first,” Samardzija said. “I think we’ve seen enough out of Riz at first to know he’s a premium first baseman defensively. I always need to be on my toes when the ball heads that way because he plays deep and plays in the hole. We’re kind of on the same page. I’d rather have him cover a lot of ground. We’ve made that play a lot of times. It’s nice to have that over there, it’s a nice commodity to have a first baseman who can pick it like Riz.”

* Playing the NL Central is a good test for the Cubs.

“They’re a good team,” Samardzija said of the Reds. “We’re not playing a fifth-place team. They’re a complete team. They can hit, they can play defense, they can pitch. When they’re guys are healthy in the bullpen, they can close games out. When you play the Reds, Cardinals and Pirates and the Brewers now, you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game and play clean defense and put some runs on the board and pitch well if you want to win games. I think it’s a good learning curve for us to understand to win games in the big leagues we need all three facets of the game to be clean. You play the good teams and they take advantage of your mistakes, and you can’t give them any breathing room.”

* The Reds stole five bases against the Cubs. It’s the first time a team has done that against Chicago since Atlanta did so on Aug. 14, 2011.

– Carrie Muskat

4/4 Phillies 7, Cubs 2

Ernie, Billy, Fergie and Ryno took part in pregame ceremonies, helping celebrate Wrigley Field’s 100th anniversary, but the Phillies spoiled the festivities at the Cubs’ home opener. Chase Utley hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning and added an RBI single in the seventh to lift the Phillies to a 7-2 victory Friday over the Cubs in front of 38,283 chilled fans.

The game marked the start of the team’s year-long celebration of Wrigley Field, which first opened in 1914 and has been the Cubs’ home for 98 seasons. Hall of Famers Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Fergie Jenkins and Phillies manager Ryne Sandberg shared the first-pitch duties and all but Sandberg sang the seventh-inning stretch. The former Cubs second baseman had to take care of his on-field duties.

The Cubs totaled three hits, including Welington Castillo’s solo home run, which wasn’t enough for Travis Wood. The lefty took the loss in his first start of the year, striking out eight and scattering six hits over 6 1/3 innings. Wood totaled 24 quality starts last season, and picked up his first this year.

“Give Travis credit, he got through some innings that we kind of muffed a little bit and he got out of them but that took his pitch count up,” said Rick Renteria, specially pointing to the Phillies’ fourth.

In the fourth, Marlon Byrd reached on an error by Chicago third baseman Luis Valbuena, who couldn’t close his glove on the ball. Byrd moved up on Ryan Howard’s single and scored on Domonic Brown’s base hit that skipped past shortstop Starlin Castro.

With one out in the Phillies’ fifth, Carlos Ruiz singled and Utley smacked the first pitch into the right-field seats to take a 3-2 lead. A career .267 hitter against left-handers, Utley had never faced Wood before Friday’s game, and hit his RBI single in the seventh off another southpaw, Wesley Wright.

Renteria believes he has some good hitters, too, but in four games, the Cubs are batting .201.

“We’ve been having good at-bats and guys are seeing pitches,” Darwin Barney said. “We’re getting to the starter a little bit but we’re not keying in in situations and making it hurt. I think four games in, hopefully, we can keep getting more comfortable and keep getting better.”

The Cubs staff is looking more at the approach at the plate, not the numbers.

“You don’t know, four games in, the identity of an offense,” Barney said. “I think none of us are too worried about it. Obvoiusly, pitching has been good enough to be 4-0 right now. If we can turn it around offensively a little bit, I think things will look better.”

Castro and Anthony Rizzo are each 2-for-17, although Rizzo nearly took advantage of the bizarre 23 mph westerly wind in the first when he hit a fly ball to the track in center. On cold days at Wrigley, the wind usually blows in and favors pitchers.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen it that way — I asked a lot of guys and even asked Sandberg about it,” Barney said. “He said it was really odd that the wind was blowing out even though it was so cold.”

Castro, slowed this spring by a strained hamstring that resulted in him playing more Minor League games than Cactus League ones, wasn’t worried about the slow start. The shortstop said in Spring Training he wanted to get back to having an All-Star type season. Is he putting pressure on himself?

“No,” Castro said. “I try to get my mind strong. I know who I am, I know what I can do and I’m going to be good.”

The fans have high expectations for the Cubs, and some showed their displeasure at the sluggish offense.

“We all know how the fans are,” Renteria said. “They want to see a good ballgame and they want their team to do well and they have every right to be dissatisfied when we don’t do well, as we all are in that clubhouse. The one thing I have to maintain and we will maintain is that we take an even-keel approach and address those things that need to be addressed, and we’ll play another game tomorrow.”

– Carrie Muskat

3/3 Contract updates

The Cubs have agreed to 2014 contract terms with all 19 players on their 40-man roster with zero-to-three years of Major League service. The list includes catchers Welington Castillo; pitchers Jake Arrieta, Dallas Beeler, Alberto Cabrera, Justin Grimm, Blake Parker, Neil Ramirez, Hector Rondon, Arodys Vizcaino, Zac Rosscup and Chris Rusin; infielders Arismendy Alcantara, Mike Olt, Christian Villanueva and Logan Watkins; and outfielders Brett Jackson, Junior Lake, Matt Szczur and Josh Vitters.

– Carrie Muskat

2/26 Extra bases

* Kyle Hendricks, the Cubs’ Minor League pitcher of the year in 2013, retired all eight batters he faced in Wednesday’s intrasquad game. The right-hander was a combined 13-4 at Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa combined last season.

“He’s probably put himself on everybody’s radar by the way he went about his business last year,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “It doesn’t hurt anybody to come out and do well.”

Justin Ruggiano, Welington Castillo and Christian Villanueva each hit solo home runs and Junior Lake hit a RBI single in the intrasquad game, which the “home” team won, 5-3. Jorge Soler walked, stole second and scored on Ryan Kalish’s single for the tie-breaking run in the fifth.

* Mike Olt did not play third base on Wednesday but was able to get an at-bat as the designated hitter, and drew a walk in the fifth. He said his right arm is a little tender, and the soreness is not unusual.

“It’s how it is every year,” Olt said. “It hasn’t bothered my swing.”

Acquired from the Rangers last July in the Matt Garza deal, Olt is a candidate for the Cubs’ third base job. He was scheduled to be the designated hitter on Thursday in the Cubs’ Cactus League opener.

* Second baseman Darwin Barney has been working a lot with new hitting coach Bill Mueller in hopes of getting back on track after batting .208 last season.

“We’re happy with where we’re at right now and feeling comfortable,” Barney said. “We feel we have a solid game plan, so we’ll keep continuing to move forward with that. I feel good to go. I feel mechanically sound. I feel like I’m getting results off the bat that I want and hopefully I can carry that forward.”

* Welington Castillo was the designated hitter on Wednesday in the intrasquad game in an effort to give him at-bats. Castillo had arthroscopic knee surgery in mid September and was slowed a little this spring because of his groin. So far, he’s passed all the tests.

“I think everybody is assured he’s completely healed and recovered,” Cubs manager Rick Renteria said. “Like anything, we need to make sure we’re giving him the load of work he needs to get him into the season and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

Castillo showed his swing is just fine as he led off the fourth inning with a home run off lefty Tsuyoshi Wada.

* Arodys Vizcaino, who has not pitched since 2011 after needing Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, threw one inning in the intrasquad game, and walked two and gave up one hit.

“I’m just hoping his health continues to not be an issue,” Renteria said. “His arm is live. [The ball] comes out of there pretty easy. It looks like he’s using his secondary pitches in live [batting practice] the way he wants to. If he wants to bury a pitch he does it, if he wants to go off the corners he can.”

* Jake Arrieta is throwing from flat ground, and continuing to make progress this spring. Arrieta, who was projected for the Cubs starting rotation, was slowed because of tightness in his right shoulder.

* Matt Szczur made a great catch in left field in the intrasquad game Wednesday, but had a bloody right wrist to show for it. He didn’t let up just because it was intrasquad.

“There’s only one way to play,” he said.

– Carrie Muskat

2/15 Extra bases

* One of the pitchers the Cubs are eager to see this spring is Arodys Vizcaino, who has been slow in coming back from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. On Saturday, Vizcaino threw his first side session, and manager Rick Renteria was impressed.

“The ball came out of his hand pretty easy,” Renteria said of Vizcaino, acquired from the Braves in July 2012 in the Paul Maholm deal. “He stayed down in the zone pretty consistently in his pen today. He looked comfortable, very fit. I think he looked as good as we would want him to look at this point.”

The Cubs don’t want to put a timetable on his return, but Vizcaino is projected for the bullpen when ready.

“Obviously, it’s been a long road back,” Renteria said of the right-hander, who pitched in the big leagues in 2011 but had a setback last season.

* The Cubs will be careful with Welington Castillo, too. So far, he’s had no problems with his right knee, which needed arthroscopic surgery and forced him to end the 2013 season early.

“We’re going to monitor the innings he’s catching, just like anybody who comes off something, especially a catcher,” Renteria said Saturday. “He’s working hard. We were out there this morning, and he was moving fine. We’re aware of it and we’ll do what we can to make sure he stays healthy.”

Castillo admitted the knee bothered him well before he had the surgery.

“There was a time when it felt a little sore but what can I do?” Castillo said. “I’m here to play and will try to do all I can to win a game. I don’t worry about it. Sometimes you have to play with pain. You’re human. You need to prepare yourself before a game and do all you can do to win the game.”

– Carrie Muskat

11/26 Cubs acquire Kottaras

Dioner Navarro posted career numbers last season as the Cubs backup catcher, but he is now a free agent and the team decided to go a different direction, and acquired George Kottaras from the Royals for a cash consideration on Tuesday. Kottaras, 30, was the Royals’ backup catcher last season after he was claimed off waivers from the Athletics in January. He started 29 games and hit .180 with four doubles, five home runs and 12 RBIs. Kottaras’ .349 on-base percentage was sixth-highest among American League catchers.

Navarro batted .300 in 89 games with the Cubs, hitting a career-high 13 home runs and driving in 23 runs, as a backup to Welington Castillo, who will be the team’s starter again in 2014.

Kottaras, a left-handed hitter, was designated for assignment by the Royals on Friday. He has batted .214 with 40 doubles, three triples, 29 home runs and 96 RBIs in 295 Major League games with the Red Sox (2008-09), Brewers (2010-12), Athletics (2012) and Royals (2013). In 2012, Kottaras tied his career mark with nine home runs between the Brewers and Athletics, including six in 27 games for the Athletics following a July 29 trade. In his final full season with Milwaukee in 2011, he hit for the cycle, Sept. 3 at Houston, becoming the third catcher to do so in the live ball era.

– Carrie Muskat

9/20 Castillo done for season

Welington Castillo has a partial meniscus tear in his right knee, which will require arthroscopic surgery. He is done for the season.

“With proper rehab, it’s the type of thing you come back 100 percent from with rehab,” Theo Epstein said Friday.

This was Castillo’s first full season as the Cubs regular catcher.

“He had a fantastic year,” Epstein said. “I think it’s a developmental success story in every facet. With catching, it starts with winning the trust with your pitchers and putting the right fingers down and he did an outstanding job. He’s really involved in game planning and game calling. I think every pitcher now loves throwing to him. He did an outstanding job defensively. His blocking has been at an elite level.”

Castillo struggled offensively at the beginning of the season but came on strong at the end.

“He made some adjustments and learned a lot about his swing and has gotten pitches that he can drive and is doing damage with them,” Epstein said. “He’s always been a super talented player and great kid, and this is one of those years he’s established himself. Unfortunately it ends this way but he had a full year.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/19 Castillo out with sore knee

Cubs catcher Welington Castillo had to leave Thursday’s game in the sixth inning because of a sore right knee, and wasn’t sure if he will be able to play in the team’s final nine games. Castillo led off the sixth inning with a ground out to Milwaukee shortstop Jeff Bianchi, and grabbed his right hamstring as he ran down the line. Castillo then slowly walked back to the dugout. The team announced he was pulled because of right knee soreness.

“I felt some sharp pain,” Castillo said. “I don’t know what happened. I was running hard and tried to beat the throw, and felt some sharp pain.”

He will be examined on Friday in Chicago.

“I want to finish the season hard,” Castillo said. “I feel my body this year is in really good shape, good health. Stuff happens, and you go and give 100 percent, and that kind of stuff can happen.”

Was he a little worried?

“Yeah, because I want to finish strong,” Castillo said. “The doctor will decide what to do [Friday].”

– Carrie Muskat

9/17 Brewers 4, Cubs 3

Jeff Samardzija reached 200 innings and 200 strikeouts for the first time in his career and also notched his first recorded dugout argument with coach David Bell.

Carlos Gomez smacked a tying two-run homer in the seventh, and pinch-runner Jeff Bianchi scored on a sacrifice bunt by pinch-hitter Logan Schafer in the ninth to lift the Brewers to a 4-3 victory Tuesday night over the Cubs at Miller Park.

It got interesting in the Brewers’ sixth. Milwaukee led 1-0 when Norichika Aoki tripled down the right field line. Samardzija escaped any damage as Jean Segura popped up and Jonathan Lucroy hit into a fielder’s choice with Aoki getting caught in a rundown. Lucroy tried to reach second on the play, but was thrown out. After the inning ended, Samardzija and Bell got into a heated discussion in the dugout. It’s the second argument in as many days for the Cubs. On Monday, Edwin Jackson and manager Dale Sveum had an animated shouting match in the dugout when the pitcher was pulled.

The problem between Samardzija and Bell was that the pitcher wasn’t happy with where first baseman Anthony Rizzo was positioned against Aoki. That’s Bell’s job.

“They were just screaming a little bit about our strategy,” Sveum said.

But in back to back games?

“Sometimes that happens,” Sveum said. “We’ve obviously been fortunate to not have anything like that happen. Unfortunately, it’s back to back nights. Tonight, that was really nothing.”

“We were just talking strategy,” Samardzija said of the disagreement.

“Some of the best teams I’ve ever been on, and the best players I’ve been around, this stuff happens quite often, unfortunately,” Bell said. “It’s not something you want to have happen but in the heat of the moment when you’re competing, like I said he does, and we all do, I think things like this are going to happen. The best teams and best players, it seems to happen more. It’s not a big deal.”

How much of a competitor is Samardzija? Before anyone could ask him a question, Bell said, “I love everything about this guy, the way he competes and the way he cares and the way he goes about everything and his intensity. It’s going to make him a great pitcher for a long time. I absolutely love the guy.”

Samardzija has seen plenty of brouhahas during his Cubs career involving Carlos Zambrano and former manager Mike Quade. On a scale of what he’s witnessed in the past, the right-hander graded Tuesday’s incident a “one.”

“There are a lot of cameras out there, that’s the way it is,” Samardzija said. “It’s just competitive dudes, man, playing to win a game. It’s good to see. People care. Our record isn’t where we want it to be right now and nobody’s happy about it. We’re out here scraping and clawing and doing everything we can to win a ballgame.

“‘Belly’ is the epitome of that, of doing whatever he can to win a ballgame,” Samardzija said of the third base coach. “He cares, everyone on this team cares. Nobody is happy where we’re at as a team and we just want to win every game we can. We’ve had some pretty good characters here on these teams that would overshadow this.”

Welington Castillo gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead in the seventh with a two-run homer. But Samardzija walked Aramis Ramirez to open the Brewers’ seventh, and Gomez followed with his 20th home run off a hanging slider to tie the game.

“Besides one pitch, he was really good,” Sveum said of Samardzija. “He used his fastball, pitched inside, did really well pitching inside and had his fastball working really well.”

In the Milwaukee ninth, Justin Grimm walked Ramirez, who was lifted for Bianchi, and he moved up on Gomez’s single. Scooter Gennett then bunted, but he was safe on an error by Grimm, who could not field the ball cleanly and whose throw pulled Rizzo off the bag. With the bases loaded, Caleb Gindl popped up to shortstop Starlin Castro, and Schafer bunted to Grimm, with Bianchi scoring.

“Leadoff walks never help,” Grimm said. “I threw some close pitches on the outside and they were a little out. Then the base hit, and then I don’t field my position and didn’t give myself any help at all. Bases loaded, and the guy got the bunt down. Maybe I should’ve gone fastball, I don’t know. I thought it was a good pitch [to Schafer],” Grimm said. “I was trying to get the guy out. It didn’t work out in my favor. I made it really tough on myself.”

– Carrie Muskat

9/16 Gold Glove nuggets

Gold Glove ballots will be distributed this week. Here’s a look at recent or season-long defensive accomplishments by qualifying Cubs defenders:

* Welington Castillo leads all Major League catchers with a 2.5 defensive WAR (2.5) this season.

* Anthony Rizzo leads all ML first basemen in defensive WAR (0.6) and leads all National League first basemen with an .900 ultimate zone rating. Rizzo ranks second in the league with a .996 fielding percentage this season.

* Darwin Barney leads all National League second basemen in defensive WAR (1.4), and has made only four errors this season, by far the fewest by any everyday second baseman. Barney’s .993 fielding percentage is far and away the best in the National League. He began this season with a 71-game errorless streak and takes an active 41-game errorless streak into tonight’s game.

* Starlin Castro has made four errors in his last 72 games starting June 26. He has an .882 ultimate zone rating during that span, second-best among NL shortstops, and a .988 fielding percentage, also second-best among league shortstops in that span.

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